The EFA is proud to announce to our members the funding of a new scholarship opportunity, named in memory of Ruth Mullen, longtime EFA member and volunteer, editorial colleague, and friend to many in our association. At the time of her tragic death last September, Ruth was serving as an EFA co-executive.
The EFA has partnered with the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to launch the Editorial Freelancers Association Ruth Mullen Memorial Scholarship program. Under the program, we are sponsoring two $5,000 scholarships, beginning with the 2022–2023 academic year. One scholarship is for an undergraduate attending a historically Black college or university (HBCU) and one is for an HBCU alum attending graduate school. The scholarships are available to students who are Black, African American, or of Black African descent and enrolled in a degree program leading to (1) employment in the publishing or communications industry, or (2) a career that could lead to their becoming a member of the EFA.
Each $5,000 award will be paid directly to the scholarship recipient’s HBCU in two annual installments of $2,500. The EFA has already funded the full amount of both scholarships.
The impetus for the program came from the Ad Hoc Committee on HBCU Scholarships, co-chaired by Andrea Reid and Andrew Huston, which recommended to the Board of Governors that the EFA establish and fund such a scholarship program.
“The 2020 societal epiphany that racial inequity had to finally be addressed on a national scale did not mark a racial reckoning, just the beginning of one. The EFA should play a part in the reckoning process by supporting educational equity,” the committee stated in its report to the board. “The entire publishing industry has not equitably provided careers for marginalized groups, and especially not for African Americans. An EFA HBCU scholarship program would be one way to help right that wrong.”
The program, which was approved by the EFA board at its November 2021 meeting, will be administered by the UNCF, the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. Founded in 1944, the UNCF is a groundbreaking organization made famous by its slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Since then, more than 500,000 students have earned degrees with the help of UNCF scholarships. By contracting out program administration to the UNCF, with its many years of experience, the time required of EFA volunteers will be manageable and no staff need be added.
HBCUs are institutions founded before the 1964 Civil Rights Act to provide educational opportunities to African Americans; they are historically significant and culturally important. According to committee co-chair Reid, who herself is a graduate of an HBCU, “Attending an HBCU was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As a person of color, there’s a sense of pride and purpose that is felt from attending an HBCU. At Howard University, I was constantly reminded that I was walking in the footsteps of great people who made lasting impressions on the world. Alain Locke, Frederick Douglass, Charles Drew, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Lucy Diggs Slowe, and many others were figures who did monumental things to enhance Black culture and the world. Being in this environment, my professors and other staff members encouraged me and others, letting us know we could achieve greatness as well.”
Ms. Reid adds, “I am proud to be a member of the EFA, where we are taking a proactive role in diversity and educational equity by offering this scholarship to deserving HBCU students. This action signifies that there is a space within the EFA for African American writers, editors, and others to showcase their talents.”
The EFA board agreed that the scholarship should be named in memory of Ruth Mullen, who had a lifelong commitment to civil rights. Ruth’s husband, Jim Bradley, has given his blessing: “Ruth was highly supportive of this project. And while she would have been mortified at the thought of having something named after her (she ALWAYS preferred working in the background), it would be an honor she would have (secretly!) cherished. Advancing the cause of equal opportunity was a cause very near to her heart.”
The program will open to applications in the spring, finalists will be selected June–July, and scholarship recipients will be announced August–September.
Although the program is initially for two scholarships beginning with the upcoming academic year, it is our intention to raise money to continue, and hopefully expand, the scholarship program going forward. More on that in future releases, where the committee will also be asking for volunteers to help with fundraising and grant writing.
Given the EFA’s deep commitment to diversity and education, we’re especially proud to be announcing this scholarship during Black History Month. We hope all our members will share in that pride.